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Posts

What kind of inquiry is needed?

haaretz.com

white

Give them an inquiry

Rather than investigating Israel’s deadly raid of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, an international inquiry should look into how Israel managed to sell its destructive Gaza policies to the countries of the world.

Zvi Bar’el, 20 June 2010


They want an international commission of inquiry to investigate the events of the raid on the Gaza flotilla? No problem – on condition that it is truly international: the kind that has UN secretaries-general over the years give testimony, as well as U.S. presidents, European leaders, Turkish presidents past and present, and all those who turned their backs when they knew what was going on in the Gaza Strip and agreed to the siege policy until the flotilla. All those who allowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to go on undisturbed and who felt that Gaza was a humanitarian, not a political problem.

It is fascinating to read UN resolutions on the Gaza Strip. They are perfectly laid out and usually begin with words like “we call on the sides,” “we regard with gravity,” “we support the Arab initiative,” “we endorse previous UN resolutions,” which were never implemented, of course. Empty words that were wasted on the sentences in which they were used. There was no banging on the table, not a single resolution on dispatching an international force, as if Gaza were not a combat zone but an unavoidable natural disaster; something the aid organizations should handle, not the politicians; a solution with aid convoys, not sanctions.

True, Israel is the one that imposed the siege and jailed 1.5 million civilians in a prison into which it threw food and medicine, following a very orderly list and in line with the number of calories each person needs to survive. Everyone watched, heard and remained silent – the Turkish prime minister and president, who until Operation Cast Lead did not really raise their voices, two American presidents, two UN secretaries-general, and European heads of state. In other words, they spoke endlessly, initiated resolutions, tried to mediate, but in the end raised their hands in surrender. After all, it is an internal Israeli-Palestinian matter that does not really pose a threat to world peace. A million and a half jailed Palestinians? It’s Hamas’ fault, not Israel’s.

Until suddenly it turns out that the Gaza Strip, an empty area without petroleum or diamond wealth, strategically insignificant for the powers, could stir an international crisis. Relations between Israel and Turkey hit a reef, relations between the United States and Turkey are being reevaluated, the Jewish lobby is working overtime in Congress to push the administration to censure Turkey, Germany and the United States are trying to mediate between Israel and Turkey, and Turkish assistance to the international force in Afghanistan is being weighed. Meanwhile, Turkey enjoys great popularity in the Arab and Muslim world, but also threatens the Egyptian and Muslim monopoly for resolving the conflicts in the region. And Israel once more appears to be an irrational burden on U.S. policy in the region.

It also suddenly turns out that when the Gaza Strip manages to stir an international crisis, it is possible to ease the conditions of the siege. The list of items that can be imported is stretched like a rubber band. And people are beginning to talk about conditions for operating the Rafah crossing, the European Union is once more proposing to come back and supervise it, and mostly, Washington has awoken and is flexing a muscle. Not because the people of Gaza have been transformed into something the world is genuinely interested in; they have become a strategic threat. Where were all these critics, all the countries that have signed the UN’s human rights conventions, when the siege was put in place and the blockade became asphyxiating?

An international inquiry into the foolishness of Israel’s policy is unnecessary. There is no need to busy the world with something that is obvious and needs no proof. An international inquiry into the reasons and ways Turkish citizens were killed should also not be created. This is a subject for a joint Turkish-Israeli inquiry that should be set up quickly.

An international inquiry should have a different mandate: to look into how Israel managed to sell its destructive policy to the countries of the world, how they agreed to the jailing of 1.5 million people without a UN resolution. They should look into the international significance of the fact that a member of the UN decides to take such a step, and the international organization that now wants to investigate can’t prevent that step, or forcefully act to cancel it. This is not a commission of inquiry against Israel but against UN headquarters in Manhattan. This is also the reason that such a committee will not be formed. It is much simpler to reach a plea bargain with Israel.

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